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`For the Love of God; `Eros, Agape & Caritas', Part 2.

Posted Nov 15, 2011 by kym Jones in General
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`Eros' and `agape' are defined as ascending and descending love.

`Agape is often contrasted with eros, which is not found in the New Testament though it is prominent in Greek philosophy. Eros can refer to a vulgar, carnal love, but in the context of Hellenic thought it takes the form of spiritual love that aspires to procure the highest good. Eros is the desire to possess and enjoy; agape is the willingness to serve without reservations. Eros is an ascending love that proceeds from the earthly to the heavenly. Agape is a descending love that proceeds from the heavenly to the sinful. Eros is attracted to that which has the greatest value; agape goes out to the least worthy. Eros discovers value wheras agape creates value. Agape is a gift love whereas eros is a need love. Eros springs from from a deficiency that must be satisfied. Agape is the overflowing abundance of divine grace. For Plato eros is not found in God, for God is devoid of passion. Plotinus, on the other hand, made a place for eros in God, but this was simply God reflecting upon his own goodness. (`God the Almighty': Power, Wisdom, Holiness and Love', D. Bloesch, 2006, p. 147.)

`Eros' is described as ascending love  because the Greeks believed that God is unknowable and ineffable; which is to say that as it impossible for God to descend to where we are (for reason this would be a corruption of His divinity), then we must seek Him out and do good `works' to prove that we are worthy, and purify our souls so that our assumed immortal souls might reunite with God at death. Pope Benedict VI described `eros' in this manner:

`True, eros tends to rise "in ecstasy" towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves: yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing.' (`Deus Caritas Est' - "God is Love"; Pope Benedict's First Encyclical Letter.)

The rising `in ecstasy' which Pope Benedict refers to is the sacred rite of temple prostitution, by which one imitated the procreating action of the God's in sexual union, at which orgasm mimicked the blissful transcendence of the soul at death, when the soul supposedly leaves the body and unites with God. Thus, for the Greeks, salvation consisted of the movement of the creature toward the Creator, and `eros' can be defined as `works', while agape may be defined as `faith'. This is the strictly Protestant understanding of `agape' - which falls far short of the true intent of the word.  For the Apostle Paul informs us that he wished to know nothing except Christ crucified, (1 Cor. 2: 2), for the `agape' of Christ behooved him (Greek - `ophelio') to suffer the second death for us, so that we  might not suffer it ourselves! This is the true breath-taking import of the `agape' of Christ!

Pope Benedict then makes the point that :

`Indeed, the prostitutes in the temple, who had to bestow this divine intoxication, were not treated as human beings and persons, but simply used as a means of arousing “divine madness”: far from being goddesses, they were human persons being exploited. An intoxicated and undisciplined eros, then, is not an ascent in “ecstasy” towards the Divine, but a fall, a degradation of man. Evidently, eros needs to be disciplined and purified if it is to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns.' (ibid.)

Pope Benedict's answer, is that God is not merely `eros', but is `agape' as well, for God reflects both forms of love to us:

`Even if eros is at first mainly covetous and ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing near to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to “be there for” the other. The element of agape thus enters into this love, for otherwise eros is impoverished and even loses its own nature. On the other hand, man cannot live by oblative, descending love alone. He cannot always give, he must also receive. Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift.' (ibid.)

According to Pope Benedict, these two forms of love which reveal to us the character of God,  is reflected by the love which men also have, whose `ascending love' is likened to the covetous and seeking love of Adam after he fell, and `descending love' is likened to:

` . . . the example of Moses, who entered the tabernacle time and again, remaining in dialogue with God, so that when he emerged he could be at the service of his people. “Within [the tent] he is borne aloft through contemplation, while without he is completely engaged in helping those who suffer.' (ibid.)

Thus Pope Benedict sees eros as rooted in man's very nature, and  informs us that although eros was condemned in the Old Testament, it is in the New Testament that we see a blending of eros and agape by which:

` This newness of biblical faith is shown chiefly in two elements which deserve to be highlighted: the image of God and the image of man.' (ibid.)

Therefore, although God is primarily considered to be eros, for reason that eros was in fact the first attribute of God and is therefore considered to transcend agape:

`The philosophical dimension to be noted in this biblical vision, and its importance from the standpoint of the history of religions, lies in the fact that on the one hand we find ourselves before a strictly metaphysical image of God: God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos, primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love. Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape.' (ibid.)

Thus we find that in the Catholic religion the character of God, this is represented by the syncretism of `eros' with `agape', which thus leads to the belief that the works  of the individual, plus faith - not in Christ, but instead in the sacraments of the Church, equate to salvation. This syncretism of `eros' with `agape' is then called acquaints to `lovingkindness', `charity', and `Caritas' and the Biblical foundation that main is saved by faith alone is completely refuted, for the neo-Platonism of the Catholic Church determines that man must do good works to achieve salvation -  for the simple fact that God is far too `good' to descend to this material plane of existence, and be `made in the likeness of men' (Philipians 2: 7), as this was considered to be a corruption of the divinity of Christ - which is why a careful reading of the Nicene Creed reveals that this Creed refutes the possibility that any such corruption can possibly be made.  Perhaps this might help the reader to see a little more clearly why Augustine believed that the souls of men dimly reflect the Trinity, for:

“If you see charity, you see the Trinity”, wrote Saint Augustine.' (ibid.)

In other words, if you see this Catholic conception of the love of God, which is defined as `charity' -  for it is a fusing of `eros' and `agape'; you then see the Trinity reflecting this love in the doctrines which proceed from it, such as `vicarious substititution', `original sin', the `immaculate conception', and the basis of all of these doctrines which in turn defines the Trinity, which is the doctrine of the `natural immortality', or `divine origin' of the soul. All of these doctrines are what one perceives, when one sees the `charity'of the Trinitarian doctrine. 

The worst error that the Trinity propagates, is that it conveys to us an erroneous conception  of the character of God, for by declaring that God is both `eros' and `agape', the true `agape' love of God is obscured by the disguised selfishness, and covetousness that defines `eros', for when `agape' is fused with `eros', it ceases to be agape, and becomes instead   refined paganism.